Hundreds of Christians from a dozen nations joined together with 3,000 Israelis on Sunday evening in the small Samarian Jewish community of Revava to mark the end of the self-imposed Jewish building freeze in the so-called West Bank.
The Christians were in Israel to participate in the annual International Christian Zionist Center (ICZC) Feast of Tabernacles celebration. The theme of this year’s feast was Genesis 22:17, where God promises Abraham that his “seed shall possess the gates of their enemies.”
ICZC Director Jan Willem van der Hoeven thought it fitting that his group demonstrate their belief in that passage by physically standing with the people of Israel as they reversed that fateful decision to suspend Jewish building in Judea and Samaria in accordance with US and Arab demands.
“We as Gentiles tell you, be strong and of courage to possess the land,” van der Hoeven stated in the central Samaria town of Ariel, just prior to the rally in nearby Revava.
In Revava, the Christians with their bright banners and national flags were swarmed by the Israeli and international media before mingling in amongst the thousands of faithful Israelis from around the country who had come to strengthen the Jews of Judea and Samaria.
The Israelis seemed surprised, though very grateful, to see these foreigners in this isolated place and for this occasion. Most greeted the Christians warmly and many applauded loudly as the flags of various nations were marched in.
Likud MK and deputy minister for development in the Negev and Galilee, Ayoub Kara, who is an Israeli Druze, addressed the crowd in a fiery Zionist speech before turning to the Christians and saying:
“I say to all the non-Jews who are here, I too am not a Jew, but in spirit I am most Jewish, I am most Zionist, and so are you! Good for you that you are here to support Israel.”
Rising Likud star MK Danny Danon, who organized the rally, also took time during his speech to directly address the Christians (in English), saying:
“We salute you. We know that you love Israel unconditionally.”
Danon asked the foreigners to take the message back to their countries that Israel respects them, but insists that its own democracy and historical rights must also be respected. He then apologized to the Jews of Judea and Samaria that they had been treated like “second class citizens” when they were told they could no longer build homes, schools or synagogues.
On Monday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stuck to his promise to allow the building freeze to expire on time, despite heavy American pressure to extend it. However, building permits are expected to be issued much more sparingly so as not to rock the diplomatic boat too much.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been saying every day for the past month that if any Jewish building resumes in the areas he claims for a future state, then the current US-brokered peace negotiations will be over. Washington has been pressing Netanyahu hard to not let that happen, and both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have hinted in no uncertain terms that if the peace talks break down, Netanyahu will be blamed.
Danon sought to remind Netanyahu that similar threats were made more than 15 years ago by former US President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. They insisted that if Jewish “settlement activity” continued after the signing of the so-called “Oslo Accords,” it would cause an international crisis for which Israel would be blamed.
But, Danon noted, Israel went on building, and Washington and the nations made some noise, but there was no crisis, there was no regional war.
Van der Hoeven and the ICZC are urging the Israelis to at the very least return to a situation where Judea and Samaria are actually disputed territories. By implementing building freezes and signaling constantly that Judea and Samaria are, as the Arabs claim, occupied, Israel can only blame itself when the world refuses to accept that these are ancient Jewish lands, said van der Hoeven.
The ICZC’s short term solution is for Israel to insist, constantly and adamantly, that Judea and Samaria are Jewish lands, and if there needs to be a Jewish building freeze while the issue is hashed out, then the Arabs must also stop building.
To learn more about the ICZC, visit: www.israelmybeloved.com